Local News

House Tax Committee Approves Making Ports Tax Break Permanent

Posted August 16, 2001 4:53 a.m. EDT

— A tax break enjoyed by wood chip mills shipping their products through state ports would end under a bill that also makes the credit permanent for other shippers.

The House tax-writing committee approved the measure Thursday and sent it to the budget-writing committee. The tax breaks are designed to help the state ports at Wilmington and Morehead City compete with nearby harbors at Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va.

Environmental groups have long opposed chipping mills because they say the mills encourage loggers to clear-cut forests.

The deleted tax break for shipping wood chips will not effect how much is produced for export through the ports, a spokesman for a logging industry trade group said. Chip mills could continue exporting through the state ports or shift to nearby competitors, said Robert Slocum, the executive vice president of the North Carolina Forestry Association.

Shippers can deduct up to 50 percent of what they pay the State Ports Authority for storage and handling costs, up to $2 million, from their yearly state income taxes.

The state ports supported 80,000 jobs statewide and generated nearly $300 million in tax revenue in 1999, the latest year for which there are state estimates.